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Chicago vs. Columbus (Match Preview)

Emilio Renteria could start on Saturday against Chicago. (Photo by Sam Fahmi / Massive Report)
Emilio Renteria could start on Saturday against Chicago. (Photo by Sam Fahmi / Massive Report)

As the 2012 MLS season is coming to a close, the race for the playoffs only intensifies with every passing game. The Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire continue their fight to make the postseason on Saturday night in Bridgeview at 8:30 ET.

Currently, the Crew are one spot out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. They are sitting in sixth place with 45 points (13-10-6). Meanwhile, Chicago is holding on to second place with 50 points (15-8-5) after a late-season surge up the table.

This will be the third meeting between the two teams this year. The previous two games both ended in 2-1 wins for the home team.

Columbus is coming off another late, miraculous win from Wednesday night. A Justin Meram goal in the 89th minute secured a 1-0 home victory against Chivas USA. The Fire will be more rested than the Crew. Chicago played last Saturday, winning 3-1 at home over the Montreal Impact.

More after the jump...

The Crew will be without Dilly Duka on Saturday. The midfielder headed home to New Jersey for personal reasons. No further details were released. Duka's absence opens up a spot in the starting XI for another wide player. Justin Meram, the goal scorer on Wednesday, and Emilio Renteria are the two obvious options.

Chicago is loaded with offensive options. Speedy forward Dominic Oduro causes havoc for any back line. Recently, Oduro has been replaced with Sherjill MacDonald up top. Mid-season acquisition Chris Rolfe has six goals in his second stint with the team. Wingers Patrick Nyarko and Alvaro Fernandez have both speed and class on the ball.

Prediction: Crew 2-1 Fire

Columbus has had a historically tough time winning in the Windy City. With the Fire's recent form and the Crew's inability to score early and often, the black and gold will be on the lucky side if they return with a point or three.